Lebanon: Interpol issues alerts in Hariri case

By BASSEM MROUE | July 9, 2011 | 1:44 PM EDT

Lebanese lawmakers congratulate Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati, right, after the new government won a vote of confidence in the Lebanese parliament, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, Tuesday July 7, 2011. Lebanon's new Cabinet has won a vote of confidence after a contentious debate over the government's position on the militant group Hezbollah. Lebanon's rival political blocs have been wrangling over an international tribunal that has indicted four Hezbollah members in the murder of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. (AP Photo/Bilal Hussein)

BEIRUT (AP) — Interpol issued its highest-level international alerts against four Hezbollah men indicted in the 2005 slaying of Lebanon's former prime minister, a Lebanese security official said Saturday.

The Interpol red notices were issued at the request of the Netherlands-based Special Tribunal for Lebanon, said the official, who requested anonymity in line with official regulations.

The alerts — the equivalent of an international most-wanted list — could deepen the crisis in Lebanon over how to deal with the international court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut.

The Iranian-backed Shiite guerrilla group denies the men's involvement and says they wont be handed over.

Hezbollah dominates Lebanon's government and has thousands of guerrilla fighters, making it unlikely that authorities will be willing — or able — detain the men.

The spokesman for the Special Tribunal did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

On Thursday, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati issued a vague promise that Lebanon would respect international resolutions as long as they did not threaten the civil peace.

Hezbollah's alleged role in Hariri's assassination threatens to trigger renewed sectarian violence in Lebanon.

Hezbollah is a Shiite group, and Hariri was a prominent Sunni statesmen. The two Muslim groups form the largest of Lebanon's mosaic of religious minorities.

Officials at the tribunal and the Interpol could not be immediately reached for comment.


Bassem Mroue can be reached at twitter.com/bmroue